9 sustainable reasons for vertical farming
Vertical farming Or also called 'closed multilayer cultivation in controlled conditions'. A difficult description for a concept that is actually not that complicated. In a vertical farm, plants are grown in different layers one above the other, in an enclosed space. Light, humidity, temperature, water supply, soil composition: this is all decided according to the exact needs of the plants, At Colruyt Group, we have designed and built such a system, with sustainability in mind. It’s something we are very proud of.
Sustainable, from seed to packaging
What do you mean, do plants have an ecological footprint? Yes, they certainly do. You can calculate this by looking at the entire life span of that plant. For example, you add up all the water and fertilisers that the plant needs to grow. The same for light and the heat and even transport to the store. How long does the plant live? Is the packaging fully recyclable? This is called a life cycle assessment (LCA). We made that entire calculation for the basil plants from our vertical farm. Our ambition: to supply herbs in our shops that have a very small ecological footprint.
9 times sustainable
- Specially dosed nutrients
The plants are given special doses of nutrients, depending on the growth stage. Exactly the amount they need to grow properly. And if a plant is does not absorb all the nutrients, we reuse them. The result: a saving of 50%.
Here too: not too much, not too little. Each plant gets exactly the right amount of water. As a result, our vertical farm uses 90% less water than conventional cultivation. Furthermore, we only use (filtered) rain water.
- Local production
The vertical farm is close to our distribution centre. This saves transport kilometres.
- No pesticides
The herbs are not treated with pesticides or plant protection products. 100% natural!
- Less space required
Our vertical farm needs up to 20 times less space for the same amount of plants than 'conventional' cultivation. Working with multiple layers saves quite a lot of agricultural and natural land.
- Sustainable packaging
Our goal is to use as little material as possible, which must be recyclable or reusable. However, the packaging must, of course, protect the plant well during transport. We are therefore fully looking into what the optimum packaging would look like.
- Green energy
The system runs on green electricity from our own wind turbines and solar panels. Energy efficient is our codeword: even the LED lighting is twice as efficient as the current standard on the market.
- No soil, but peat
The substrate of the plants is peat: compostable and certified organic. In addition, peat (in this case) has a smaller environmental impact than soil. We continue to look for even more sustainable alternatives.
- Long shelf life
Thanks to the adapted light and the specific cultivation technique, the basil plants are not only fuller in taste, but also stronger. If you take care of them, you can keep them for a lot longer.
From autumn 2019 at Bio-Planet
The test phase of our vertical farm is still in progress. But by autumn 2019, we would like to be selling the first herbs at Bio-Planet. We will keep you updated!Read more
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.